Every year the Grade 9 math teachers get together to participate in a collaborative inquiry, and we’re very lucky that we get district support to enable us to get together and have the release time to work on that. The topic that we choose each year really stems from the trending data that we see from EQAO—where are the areas of weakness that we’re seeing over a period of time from our Grade 9 students? Once we pick that topic, we get together to come up with different strategies we can use to bring precision to our teaching, to really focus in on how we can help the students in those areas. At the end of the collaborative inquiry, we get together and do some moderated marking of the current year’s EQAO assessment, before we mail it back, and that really gives us a sense of were our strategies productive? Were they useful? Did we see any gains in the skills that the students are possessing? It also informs us of our next steps for the following year. Have we identified a new area of concern? Do we still need to further work on the area that we focused in on for our current year?
So with the EQAO assessment, just so the students know that it’s a big deal and the school and everyone there also understands that, is we modify our schedule so that every student in Grade 9 math is writing their EQAO assessment first thing in the morning. So by doing that, we’re showing how important that assessment is. On top of that, we also use our moderated-marking assessment practices to inform us whether or not the students have reached curriculum expectations across the province. So if they’ve reached Level 3, what that does is that it allows the students to opt out of their final exam. They’ve demonstrated the knowledge that they needed to demonstrate to show that they’re at provincial expectations. So that’s just another one of the aspects that comes out of moderated marking when we do that.
Another thing that we do is if students aren’t able to reach the expectations of the curriculum—so they get a Level 2 or below—what we do is we offer them another opportunity with their final exam to show us that information again for a second time. So again, students who get a Level 3 or higher may choose to opt out of their final exams. Students who are below that Level 3 level, what we do is we let them write the final exam afterwards, and hopefully they will be able to demonstrate their full knowledge and understanding then.
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